More or less equality? Facts, debates, and policies related to the Nordic model

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The topic of income inequality has become a new nexus of research among historians and social scientists recently. Piketty (2014) has famously argued:

Inequality is shaped by the way economic, social, and political actors view what is just and what is not, as well as by the relative power of those actors and the collective choices that result. It is the joint product of all relevant actors combined.

Given that redistribution is a core element of the Nordic model and understood as key to the development of social trust and cohesion, all debates about social and cultural polarization are also debates about economic inequalities and the possible policy choices related to those issues. Moreover, in public and political discussion – in Finland especially – income inequality is in many cases conflated with various other forms of inequality in the society. This crucial difference in what is meant by scholarly versus political discourses at large can often lead to inexact policy debates and solutions. In this chapter we concentrate, mainly, on exploring the specific concepts of income inequality that are measurable and definable, especially what they tell us about this form of inequality in Finland and Sweden as our case studies. In addition, we will contextualize these cases through comparisons with the other Nordic countries as well as other polities. However, as we can see from our discussion here, there are striking differences, especially in the public discussions as measured by newspaper articles both in Finland and in Sweden, whether the discussion is focused on societal inequality in broader terms or, more specifically, on income inequality and its ramifications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Nordic Economic, Social and Political Model : Challenges in the 21st Century
EditorsAnu Koivunen, Jari Ojala, Janne Holmén
Number of pages29
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date23 Apr 2021
ISBN (Print)9780367134754
ISBN (Electronic)9780429026690
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • 5202 Economic and Social History

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